PPF seeks end to free expression violations in Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Venezuela

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) voiced concern over the violation of media rights in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Venezuela.

On Jan 13, PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali wrote to President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan regarding the detention and alleged torture of award-winning journalist Mehman Huseynov.

Huseynov was picked up on Monday evening and held without access to lawyer or his family until the next day. He was then produced in a Baku court, where the judge ruled that he had disobeyed the police and fined him. Huseynov said he was tortured.

Huseynov is an award-winning journalist, blogger and rights activist. His investigative work and video reports have regularly exposed high-level corruption and played a pivotal role in highlighting political and social problems in Azerbaijan.

On Jan 12, Ali wrote to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazid of Bangladesh to express concern over the arrest of reporter Nazmul Huda in Dhaka on Dec 24.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Huda was arrested because of his coverage of a strike by garment workers in Ashulia, the Dhaka suburb where Bangladesh’s biggest garment factories are located, RSF adds. His mobile phone and computer were also confiscated at the time of his arrest.

Huda distinguished himself in 2013 by being the only reporter to draw attention to structural problems in the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka before it collapsed, killing hundreds of garment workers and others.

On Jan 11, he wrote to PM RanilWickramasinghe of Sri Lanka, expressed concern over the confiscation of the drone camera of Hiru TV in Mirijjawila, Hambantota, on January 7.

According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), the drone camera was being used to cover the protest at the inauguration ceremony of the Sri Lanka-China joint venture at Mirijjawali that Your Excellency attended along with the Chinese ambassador. The report added that there was a clash between those attending the ceremony and those protesting it, which the drone camera was covering.

On the same date, Ali also wrote to President Nicola Maduro of Venezuela over the compulsory parliamentary broadcast on private radio and television channels on January 5.

The live broadcasts of open-signal radio stations and television stations were obstructed during the swearing-in of the new board of directors of the Venezuelan National Assembly.

The programmed broadcasting of these mediums were replaced by Notipatria, an information news program of the national government, which was made compulsory broadcasting for stations, according to the Law on Social Responsibility on Radio, Television and Electronic Media, despite it being a violation to freedom of expression.

The PPF Secretary General urged the authorities in each country to properly investigate each case and bring an end to violations of free expression, and ensure conditions where journalists and reporters can perform their professional duties without fear of intimidation or retaliation.